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How Penn State’s ComRadio Landed Jerry Sandusky Exclusive

by on October 08, 2012 11:11 PM

He drove separately to the Centre County Correctional Facility and signed in at the jail at exactly 1 p.m. Monday, 24 hours before Jerry Sandusky would be put away to what amounts to as a life sentence.

Carrying his digital recorder, microphone and headphones, he met Sandusky’s lead defense attorney, Joe Amendola, in a visitation room. Sandusky was there too, wearing a red jumpsuit, his spirits low but not depressed. He held a tablet with prepared words written down. Some minor edits and 496 words later, the biggest scoop in the history of the Penn State student-run radio group, ComRadio, was recorded and soon-to-be hand-delivered.

***

Amendola, who has hung his client out in the wicked winds of the national media before, and Jerry’s wife, Dottie, recently contacted the man saying the convicted pedophile and former Penn State assistant football coach wants to make a statement.

Here was a man who had known the Sandusky’s for 23 years, attended church with the family and volunteered with The Second Mile, the charity founded by Sandusky that, according to a jury of his peers, amounted to a factory line of vulnerable children ready to be groomed for child sexual deviance. The man’s son and the boy's friends were once guests at the Sandusky house. Tackling dummies were set up in the backyard, and the former defensive chieftain for Joe Paterno would instruct proper technique to the boys, then freshmen in high school.

It was a crisp, cool fall Monday in October when the man met Sandusky for the first time in more than a year, after his world came crashing down and he was convicted on 45 of 48 counts in a child sex abuse case. Sandusky, who appeared thinner, smiled, shook the man’s hand, took a few jabs at his old friend and sat down at a table and proclaimed his innocence to the world. The recorder stopped after 2 minutes and 56 seconds.

***

I’m responding to the worst loss of my life. First, I looked at myself. Over and over, I asked why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? What’s the purpose? Maybe it will help others; some vulnerable children who could be abused, might not be because of all the publicity. That would be nice, but I’m not sure about it. I would cherish the opportunity to become a candle for others, as they have been a light for me. They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they could treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.

My wife has been my only sex partner that was after marriage. Our love continues. A young man who was dramatic a veteran accuser, and always sought attention, started everything. He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won. I’ve wondered what they really won: Attention, financial gain, prestige… will all be temporary. Before you blame me, as others have, look at everything and everybody. Look at the preparation for the trial and the trial. Compare it to others. Think about what happened. Why, and who made it happen? Evaluate the accusers and their families. Realize they didn’t come out of isolation. The accusers were products of many more people and experiences than me. Look at their confidants and their honesty. Think about how easy it was for them to turn on me given the information, attention and potential perks. I never labeled or put down them or their families. I tried and I cared, then asked for the same. Please realize all came to the Second Mile because of issues. Some of those may remain.

We will continue to fight. We didn’t lose the proven facts, evidence, accurate locations and times. Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me. We must fight unfairness and consistency and dishonesty. People need to be portrayed for who they really are. We’ve not been complainers. When we couldn’t have kids, we adopted. When we didn’t have time to prepare for a trial, we still gave it our best. We will fight for another chance. We have given many second chances, and now we’ll ask for one. It will take more than our effort. Justice will have to be more than just a word; fairness more than just a dream. It will take others: somebody apolitical with the courage to listen, to think about the unfairness, to have the guts to stand up and take the road less traveled. I ask for the strength to handle everything and willingness to surrender only to God, regardless of the outcome.

***

It is here the man reveals two roads to travel. First, if the number of accusers, were, say, two or three, it would not be a stretch to think conspiracy could be on the table. But 10, at least? Time to start being realistic.

The second road is a chorus heard over and over for the last 11 months. The man spoke with many men associated with The Second Mile. Was there any inkling, ever, that Jerry was sexually abusing young boys? Not once did he hear anything. That, he says, is what’s most difficult to grasp. And yet, pedophiles are masters of deception. Many words have been written on this very subject, and this is not lost on the man.

“There’s another part of me that says, ‘Wow, you were bamboozled,’ ” says the man, who wished to remain anonymous.

He did not listen to testimony in person back in June, when eight boys swore that Sandusky committed unspeakable acts. He did not see the tears and the anguish and the red eyes and the youth and the finger pointing, nor did he hear the muffled voices, the cries and the pleas of please, for the love of the God, believe me. But he is a journalist, and he is a level-headed man. So . . .

“If I had gun to my head, I’d have to say he was guilty,” he says. “But I have a horrible time believing it.”

***

The man gave the tape to the students. He tells a story about the night Joe Paterno was fired by phone and how a caller had said the football team was boycotting that Saturday’s game against Nebraska. National media swarmed the ComRadio reporters camped outside Beaver Stadium, Paterno’s house and the Lasch Football Building, asking for verification that there would be no football game. The students, calmly, explained a caller had falsely reported such information.

“They’re all young and hungry,” he says. “They loved it. They’re not jumping to sensationalize. They’re taking their time to do it the right way.”

The students heard the interview, prepped it and released it publicly, unedited, live on their daily news show at 6 p.m. and on Twitter 11 minutes later. Since then they have gotten myriad inquires from media wondering how they got it.

How? He left the jail, 15 minutes after he arrived, ready to watch from a distance Tuesday as his dear friend readies himself for one fleeting chance to explain away the pain he caused so many.

“Jerry very much knows what’s gonna happen [Tuesday],” the man says. “He’s gotta get the sentence before they have any hope for filing an appeal. It’s not like he’s expecting a miracle.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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